Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: May 2018

By Dennis Hinkamp

How to talk TED.

I speak many languages that are all English. I can talk sports, science, tech, downstate Missourian and TED. I can help you with the last one.

Time may be running out on your life and the TED trend so you might just want to jump in right now if it is on your bucket list. Just because nobody has invited you to the TED cult doesn’t mean it’s too late. You have ideas about stuff and things; you just need a platform that will allow the world to adore you. You can haz ur own TED talk for the price of a web-cam and a green screen right now.

Let me help you prepare:

Prepare your script. Use obsequious words such as “obsequious.” Branch out from there using trendy, ill-defined phrases . “At the end of the day I just can’t wrap my head around how this story is unpacking. Did you see what I did there?” Air quotes are out, “spoiler alert” is getting tired, but you can still add, “hash tag” to almost anything you want to sound intelligent. I think being “woke” is okay for a couple more months.

Choreograph. You can’t just stand there; nobody will think you are smart. Oh wait, Stephen Hawking (RIP) spent his life in a wheel chair just thinking and rewriting the universe, but don’t let facts get in your way. Gestures are a good way to emphasize a point even when there really isn’t one. Fist in palm is always good for verbal punctuation. Floor pacing and gesticulations are crucial to making your point.

Eyewear and facial expressions. Glasses are a good prop and the archetype of deep thought. Why? I guess people with bad eyesight must have got that way from reading a lot or accidentally staring into the sun for too long when they were on drugs. Taking your glasses off in the midst of a really deep stage-pacing thought (no matter how scripted) is even more powerful. It’s like that face psychics get when they are trying to read your mind or when evangelists are praying for rain.

Establish an area of expertise where little competition exists. The best way to become an Internet star is to specialize in something for which there are no degrees or standards of excellence. Conversly, Establish an area of expertise that has so much competition that nobody knows who is telling the truth. Social Media is a good one. I’ve seen a lot of social media talks and the only measure of success seems to be money or your own opinion.

Make predictions. Predictions are pretty easy to get away with because seldom will anyone come back three years from now and slap you for being wrong and ruining their lives even if you are a political appointee. Congressional investigations have proven that you are not accountable for anything you said prior to, say, last week.

Being disruptive might not always be a good thing. Millions of people a year are prescribed medication for being too disruptive; your uncle Milo Smarch, after the last Thanksgiving get together, for instance. There are only so many disruptive ideas and spaces in the pecking order of thought leaders left. Choose wisely. Speaking of thought leaders: Isn’t the real problem keeping thought followers in check?

Dennis Hinkamp admits that he watches, listens to and appreciates many TED talks. But they are still overripe for satire.

This article was originally published on May 2, 2018.